Ascarina J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.

First published in Char. Gen. Pl.: 117 (1776)
This genus is accepted
The native range of this genus is Madagascar, Malesia to S. Pacific, New Zealand.


Timothy M. A. Utteridge and Laura V. S. Jennings (2022). Trees of New Guinea. Kew Publishing. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

A genus of 12 species, with one species in Madagascar and the remaining taxa from Borneo through Malesia to the Pacific and New Zealand; four species are in New Guinea.
Morphology General
Latex or sap absent (not recorded)
Morphology General Habit
Glabrous Plants dioecious or monoecious Shrubs or small to large trees to 25 m; aromatic; branches jointed at the nodes and the bases of the internodes sometimes swollen
Morphology Leaves Stipules
Stipules very small, subulate
Morphology Leaves
Leaves simple, decussate, often with intermediate leafless nodes, leaves coriaceous, obtusely serrate, the serrations often gland-tipped; petiole short
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences terminal or in the upper axils, compound spikes with flowers grouped in sessile cymes with an abaxial male flower and 1 or 2 adaxial female flowers essentially representing a bisexual flower
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers much reduced, without conspicuous perianth. Staminate flowers: reduced to 1–2 subsessile anthers with parallel linear locelli opening lengthwise (in New Guinea)
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistil
Pistillate flowers: ovary superior, ovoid-globose, sessile, 1-locular, ovule 1, pendulous; stigma sessile, truncate or 2-lipped
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a fleshy drupe, relatively small, purple-grey turning black when mature, obovoid, with thin, succulent exocarp and stony, smooth or verrucose, unspecialised endocarp
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds ovoid, flattened, with smooth testa, aril lacking.
Ascarina in New Guinea are medium to large trees in primary rain forest, especially montane forests, but they have also been collected from open habitats; from 450 to 3300 m elevation. The genus can be easily recognised vegetatively by the conspicuously jointed nodes with the internodes often swollen at the base, and the decussate leaves with serrate leaf margins often with leafless internodes. The plants have an aromatic smell reminiscent of Piperaceae when crushed, and when fertile, spicate terminal inflorescences with reduced, unisexual flowers with no conspicuous perianth, and the fruits turning black when mature.


  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2023. Published on the Internet at and
    • © Copyright 2023 World Checklist of Vascular Plants.
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2023. Published on the Internet at and
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants.
  • Trees of New Guinea

    • Trees of New Guinea